The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has said that 60 % of this year’s voters in the presidential elections are youth and1.7 million out of the 6.8 million registered voters will be voting for the first time. 54 per cent of voters are female.
This was revealed by Charles Munyaneza, NEC Executive Secretary said this while speaking to journalists during the national civic training- Itorero courses in Nkumba this week.
“We have to bring on board the youth who are majority voters to actively participate in all elections. We expect a better future from the youth and therefore they must get involved in choosing their leaders,” he said.
Munyaneza remarked that the youth also make a big part of election volunteers as a way of reducing costs.
“We are about to train them. Actually international costs in elections per one voter is estimated at 4 dollars (Rwf3200) but because of our home grown strategies to reduce costs, it is currently one dollar one voter in Rwanda,” he said.
He also added that 98 per cent of the budget to spend in 2017 elections will be provided by the government.
Figures show that 3.9 million people voted in 2003, the number increased to 5.1 million people in 2010 and this year, the number will rise to 6.8 million.
Rwf2.3bn was spent for the 2003 presidential election, the cost rose to Rwf7.3bn in 2010 but is set to reduce to Rwf5.2bn this year.
There were 1,882 polling centers and 11,545 polling stations in 2003 , 2,107 polling centers and 15, 504 polling stations in 2010 while in 2017 there will be 2,249 polling centers and 16,642 polling stations according to Munyaneza.
He said that in 2017, 75,235 election volunteers would work, the number, which increased from 64,628 in 2010 and 48,584 in 2003.
He urged journalists to sensitize Rwandans so that they vote based on their conscience and informed choices.
“Journalists should play a critical role in mobilization, education and sensitization on the process to ensure there is a high voter turn-out. They should make informed and professional analysis on a candidate’s election manifesto so as to help people make informed choices,” he said.
He added that journalists should also avoid biased and sentimental reporting on electoral process and will have to avoid announcing and making conclusions on election results before official announcement by the commission adding that journalists will be trained before elections.
Munyaneza further said that by June all election materials will be ready as currently procurement is underway.
The first phase of voter manual list will be updated by May while the online update will be on 15th July. Nomination of candidates will be done from 12 to 23 June and candidates will be announced on 7 July.
“Today we don’t have any candidates but we have those who wish to be candidates who will be required to submit their candidature. Individuals who are not political parties will have to gather 600 signatures supporting their candidature,” he said.